New York Observer - The Politicker


Maltese Out, Ragusa In


There's officially a new Republican County chair in Queens: Phil Ragusa.


The former chair, state Senator Serph Maltese, is now the "honorary chair," according to a spokesperson at the city's Board of Elections who said the paperwork was just filed there moments ago.


Maltese barely won re-election to his state senate seat in Middle Village and has been drawn into a spirited fight over his leadership of the county organization.


Ragusa ran unsuccessfully for city council.[in 2003 against Tony Avella,]


UPDATE: Urban Elephants something more extensive about the Maltese situation here. [, see below]


-- Azi Paybarah


February 02  12:16 PM


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Recounting Maltese


According to a Democratic operative working on Albert Baldeo's senate campaign, he is now down 600 votes to incumbent Republican Serph Maltese, with 1,202 votes to be counted tomorrow.


If Maltese hangs on, Senate Democrats will have two years to wonder about the what the result might have been if they had actually sunk some money into that race.


-- Azi Paybarah


Posted by The Politicker on November 14, 2006 2:45 PM

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Queens Tribune Online

March 2,


Queens GOP Victor In Proxy Battle




State Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) cemented his post as Queens Republican Party chairman last week when a Supreme Court Justice handed down a decision rejecting claims that he rigged his election at the county convention.


Bart Haggerty, a Republican committee member who ran against Maltese for chairman, filed a petition in November arguing that the longtime senator used his influence to illegally disqualify his opponent’s proxy votes. With those votes, Haggerty contended he had sufficient support to beat Maltese.


Judge Charles Thomas said in his ruling that the votes were disqualified consistent with both the party’s rules and state law. In a lopsided decision, Thomas found that none of Haggerty’s claims had merit.


“Haggerty has failed to identify any proxy which was not properly rejected, and has failed to demonstrate that the Committee rules did not warrant the invalidation of those proxies for the reasons given by the Committee,” Thomas wrote.


Proxies are documents that reflect the vote of committee members who cannot be present at a convention or meeting. To be considered legitimate, proxy votes are subject to a number of complicated regulations, such as being properly dated and submitted to party officials in a relevant district.


Haggerty argued that 223 proxies of his supporters had been invalidated. During a Nov. 29 hearing, Committee lawyers presented all the disputed proxy votes and provided reasons for their disqualification, Thomas wrote.


Maltese said he believed Haggerty made a critical mistake by contesting too many proxy votes instead of sticking to his most convincing examples. When the judge found that many proxies in evidence were handled correctly, he was less likely to add validity to the rest of Haggerty’s arguments, he said.


“By putting in claims that look frivolous, they ended up getting a decision, which may have had some pros and cons, that instead was 100 percent for our position,” Maltese said.


The court also reaffirmed the practice of using weighted votes in committee elections. Under the current system, committee member votes are counted in proportion to the turnout in their Assembly district during the last gubernatorial election.


Haggerty said he believes Thomas grossly oversimplified or simply ignored the fundamental legal questions at stake in the dispute. The slight, three-page opinion literally does not provide enough space to address the issues thoroughly, he said.


“There’s no substance in that decision,” Haggerty said, adding he plans to appeal. “Anyone who was at the meeting knows what went on there. Serf cheated, and that’s the bottom line.”


Bart Haggerty and his brother John, both staunch Bloomberg supporters, tried to stage a coup at the last Queens County Republican Party convention to overthrow Maltese, who has been chairman for the last 10 years. The meeting turned into a virtual circus of loud yelling and heated objections as word of the proxy disqualifications reached the floor.


The conflict threatened to split the Queens Republicans for a time, Maltese said, but even before this ruling Haggerty supporters have been slowly drifting back to rejoin the larger party organization by attending events and meetings. “That’s a good sign,” Maltese said.


Haggerty, on the other hand, remains unconvinced. “I think that’s really wishful thinking on his part,” he said. “This was not about me or this race, this was about eight years of failed leadership. If he thinks this is going away because he won a bogus election, he has something coming.”


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Urban Elephants


Serf's Down? Is Queens Up?


The news this morning has Serf Maltese resigning from his post as Queens County Chair in favor of long time supporter and stalwart party soldier Phil Ragusa. What does that mean for Queens Republicans? There's been turmoil in Queens GOP circles for years now, since Serf took over in an Albany-driven coup aimed at punishing former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani for his support of Mario Cuomo over George Pataki for the governorship in the state. Previous UE Post. Under Serf, we've watched Queens GOP elected office holders erode to almost nothing and seen a steady collapse in GOP candidacies around the borough. In this last election there were something like 13 or 14 (don't recall the exact number) Assembly seats that went uncontested. The Queens GOP seems to have no candidate bench left, no organization to build and support such a bench of candidates and, worse, no heart. The Queens GOP under Serf has been subsisting on Democratic leavings with many speculating about a non-aggression pact that has allowed Serf to go unchallenged in race after race for his state senate seat so long as Democratic officeholders elsewhere in the county have gone unchallenged by the GOP.


The Queens GOP, in this last election cycle, distinguished itself by cross endorsing a slate of Democratic candidates for judgeships, and little else. I don't have to reiterate here, for the nth time, my own experiences trying to run for elected office in the shadow of the Queens Republican Party. The question now is where to from here? Ragusa is an unknown quantity to many of us though he is presumably well known to those who appointed him. More to the point, is he anything more than a proxy for Serf, another means for Serf and the people around him to keep control of a county organization that has long since demonstrated its ineffectuality, except in terms of keeping its leader, State Senator Maltese, in power?


Ragusa, very much a party functionary, is uncharismatic and has no record of party building. What he has, presumably, is the Serf clique's support and the confidence of the old guard stretching all the way up to Albany. But can he win the rest of us over? Can he offer the energy, the vision, the organizing qualities that the Queens GOP so sorely needs and has been crying out for in the past few years? Can he break from Serf's mold and strike out in new directions to make the Queens County GOP a vital political organization? Can he rebuild and will he see the big picture? If he can, maybe he and Queens Republicans have a future. If he can't? Well things can't get much worse for the Queens GOP than they already have during Serf's tenure, a legacy of drift and avoidance and political paralysis.


If Ragusa can't meet the challenge that now lies before him by reaching out to all factions and reinvigorating county politics, then a fractious, rousing political battle royale for the county leadership will not be that hard to imagine. Maybe it would be for the best, too.




swmirsky's blog | 1020 reads

Submitted by swmirsky on Fri, 02/02/2007 - 10:42am.